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Your baby has a hearing loss."
For nine long months you have waited for the arrival of this precious baby. Ten fingers and ten toes are reassurance that you have a beautiful, healthy child! In those first moments as a new parent you are filled with love, relief, fear, and visions of your child's future. Then a routine hearing screening changes that vision with only a few words "Your baby has a hearing loss.."
A diagnosis of hearing loss can be frightening for any new family.
Suddenly, there are a whole different set of decisions to be made and the clock is already ticking.
One of the most important and difficult decisions to be made is the method of communication your family will use with your hearing-impaired child.
This decision must be made early as the first few years of life are significantly crucial to a child's language development.
During this critical period, the primary goal for your deaf child is communication. American Sign Language often meets this goal much earlier than speech and offers cognitive, social/emotional and speech/language benefits for deaf children.
Sign language enhances brain development by establishing connections between auditory and visual input. Signing acts as catalyst for communication by jumpstarting areas of the brain that are linked to speech and language development.
The visual input provided by sign language stimulates intellectual development and increases a child's ability to retain information longer. This ability benefits a deaf child's academic development by increasing language and vocabulary skills.
The visual-spatial aspect of sign language supplements the spatial skills needed for various mathematical concepts. Similarly, thefingerspelling alphabet is another aspect of sign language that correlates directly to phonetic skills that are necessary for reading and writing. Both aspects of sign language provide skills that are vital to the academic success of a deaf child.
A deaf child that can easily communicate a basic need such as wanting a favorite toy or needing a drink will be much happier.
The oral communication barriers caused by a lack of auditory stimulation can produce a great deal of frustration for a deaf child and can lead to socially inacceptable behaviors like temper tantrums and aggression.
Signing bridges that communication gap and creates an emotionally secure social environment for your hearing-impaired child.
Language and vocabulary development are key in social
development. Think back to high school Spanish class: the more
vocabulary you learned, the more you were able to connect with others
and establish relationships. Increasing a Deaf childs vocabulary
through sign language essentially increases the circle of people with whom your child can connect and establish relationships!
Sign language gives Deaf children an easy and natural way to express themselves. When this expression is reinforced through social interaction, confidence begins to emerge.
Confidence is the fire that strengthens and builds social development. Confidence develops as your child begins to express himself and understand the expressions of others.
When children develop this communication skill, they will naturally begin to seek out social interactions and relationships.
Sign language offers visual input that stimulates verbal communication by increasing language development. Studies have shown that sign language strengthens connections in the brain that are used for speech development.
Speech and language are the building blocks of social
development. These enable your deaf child to interact with the world
and begin to make social connections.
Sign language accelerates the acquisition of speech by stimulating areas of the brain that are associated with speech and language. Most babies (deaf or hearing) develop the gross motor skills needed for signing before they develop the fine motor skills associated with verbal speech.
Signing provides language stimulation and conceptual information that enhances vocabulary development in deaf children. Many children with hearing loss experience difficulty with expressive language and verbal ability.
Learning sign language removes a lot of this frustration; while giving children with hearing impairments access to communication; while simultaneously strengthening the ability to produce expressive speech.
Sign language is a highly beneficial and easily accessible tool for parents of deaf infants and children. The earlier that you as parents expose your Deaf children to sign language, the earlier your child begins to connect with the world around them. Sign language strengthens the academic, social and linguistic potential of deaf children.
Sign language offers endless benefits that continue to facilitate successful outcomes for deaf children and their families around the entire world.
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